Only One Opening in Omaha; UCSB and Coastal Carolina Get There in Last Atbats;

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On a full Sunday of NCAA Super Regional games, 6 teams punched their tickets to Omaha, where the College World Series starts next Saturday. Arizona had been the only team to reserve a slot in that Nebraska city, doing so Saturday against Mississippi State.   The only game left to play is game 3 between the Florida Gators and the Florida State Seminoles, and that happens at 7 PM tonight.   Miami, Texas Tech, TCU, Oklahoma State, UC Santa Barbara and Coastal Carolina all finished their series yesterday, two in dramatic fashion.

Texas Tech and Miami demolished their opponents in game 3 of their series.  The Red Raiders wiped out East Carolina 11-0 following a 13-inning duel the day before that had evened the series. It was clear it would be a case of which team had the pitching, and Texas Tech had it.  Miami used a pair of home runs and 7 RBIs  by Edgar Michaelangeli to cruise to a 9-4 romp over Boston College.  Edgar’s first shot was good for 3 runs in the second inning making it 4-0 Miami.  With the score 5-3 in the 7th he hit a grand slam and did a bat flip that the visiting Eagles took umbrage with.  The benches cleared but nobody had to be ejected once order was restored. Miami is bound for their 25th College World Series.  Oklahoma State surprised South Carolina, winning 5-1 and taking the series 2 games to None.  TCU eliminated the homestanding Aggies of Texas A&M 4-1 in game 3 of their series. The Florida Gators, after enduring a 3-hour+ delay for rain and lightning in the Gainesville area took care of business, shutting out the Seminoles 5-0.  Each team has one shutout to their credit as they await today’s game 3 which will hopefully take place at 7 PM.  The Gators scored early, with a run each in the first and third, then added 2 in the 8th and one in the 9th. The ‘Noles, who scored 18 runs in a game during their regional, got all of 2 hits in last night’s game off Logan Shore, who was taken in the second round of last week’s draft but may have to wait to dot his I’s and cross his T’s if his team wins tonight and gets a ticket to Omaha-a tournament that could last as long as June 30. In game 3 we’ll finally see A. J. Puk, a first round choice last week.  He goes for the Gators against freshman Cole Sands who earned a 4-4 mark in his first year in Tallahassee.

You can’t have a more dramatic finish than the one in Louisville.  UC Santa Barbara was designated the home team in this game and had won the first game the day before.  But Louisville’s Drew Harrington had been dominant, striking out a dozen Gauchos’ hittters.  Closer Zack Burdi came to his rescue with two on in the 8th and got through the inning unscathed.  But in the 9th, down 3-0 Sam Cohen stepped to the dish with the bases juiced and hit a walk-off grand slam for the win and the first trip to Omaha for the Gauchos. Even without a walkoff grand slam Coastal Carolina’s game at LSU had its share of dramatics.  Before an even larger crowd than LSU drew on Saturday night, the Chanticleers got ahead 2-0 in the first inning and were ahead 3-2 as the 9th inning began.  LSU needed to win to force a game 3 and the 11,600 in attendance yelled themselves hoarse cheering their team to rally.   Coastal had brought in Bobby Holmes who was the winning pitcher Saturday night after getting 7 very strong innings from Alex Cunningham.  In the 9th however, the first hitter Cole Freeman reached on a throwing error by backup second baseman Cameron Piercey.  Seth Lancaster is their regular second baseman but he had hurt his knee in the last inning Saturday night and couldn’t go. Freeman advanced to second on a Holmes wild pitch while he was in the process of walking Anton DuPlantis. Jake Fraley was up next.  He bunted for a sacrifice but reached when Piercey dropped the ball covering first.  The tying run scored on the play. After Holmes made a neat stop on a grounder to the mound by Kramer Robertson, he purposely walked Greg Deikman who had launched a 3-run home run the night before.  That walk loaded the bases.  From there he struck out Brodie Wofford and got bo Jordan to fly to left to end the inning.  With the game tied, Coastal’s leadoff man Anthony Marx walked and stole second.  Michael Paez, who had been drafted in round 4 by the Mets on Saturday singled down the left field line bringing Marx home and sending the small school from Myrtle Beach to Omaha for the first time.

As dreadful as the Twins are, once in a while they pull one off.  That’s what they did yesterday in Minneapolis, shocking the Red Sox in 10 inning, 7-4 on Max Kepler’s first career home run. Thinking little of the 23-year-old rookie from Germany,  the Red Sox used a five-man infield formation.  That did no good as the novice destroyed one off the center field batter’s eye, some 434 feet from home plate off losing pitcher Matt Barnes.  Kepler, the son of two ballet dancers played tennis and soccer in Germany before signing on with the Twins at age 16, the international minimum. The Twins had a 3-run lead in the 8th but the Sox filled the bases with nobody out and finished by tying the game on two grounders-one of which was airmailed into right field by Twins’ third-sacker Eduardo Nunez. The Twins’ starter had been Pat Dean who played his college ball at Boston College and doubtless had an eye on what was happening in Miami.

The Cubs and Nats meet in a very early possible postseason preview.  It’s the Cubs’ bad luck that Jake Arrieta isn’t available to pitch since Max Scherzer is going for the Nats.  The Cubs counter with Kyle Hendricks. The Phillies will send one of their young hopefuls, Jerad Eickhoff against the ageless knuckleballer R. A. Dickey in Toronto. Much later, the Dodgers see their mutineer, Zack Greinke as they face the D-Backs in the valley of the sun.  They send Mike Bolsinger against him. Greinke is  on a roll like a Jersey sub sandwich, having won 5 in a row coming into tonight. Last time out he pitched his first shutout in 3 years, which is surprising considering his talent. Matt Cain faces the Brewers tonight.  Exactly 4 years ago he twirled a perfecto at the Astros. Considering this will be his first start after a hitch on the DL, his leash will be short and his chances of another perfecto even smaller than normal.

Juan Uribe got his bell rung yesterday. At least that’s what the ball players call it when a man gets hit where no man wants to get hit-ringing the bell.  They’re supposed to wear metal protectors to cover that extremely sensitive region south of the border, and when it happens the players yell “Ding Dong!” Some merry pranksters will give a teammate a hit in that region and say “cup check.”  But this was no prank, as it occurred during the game.  When Mike Trout’s line drive  caught Uribe, he was unable to get up (big shock) and had to be hauled off on a cart with what the Indians’ medical staff called “a testicular contusion.”

A number of present day players have birthdays today.  The Tigers’ catcher James McCann is 26. The native of Santa Barbara played college ball at Arkansas and was taken in round 2 of the draft by the Tigers in 2011.  He was in the show by late 2014.

Rays’ pitcher Drew Smiley is 27.  Born Todd Andrew Smiley, he hails from Arkansas, and like James McCann he played at the University of Arkansas. Again like McCann he was a second-round Tigers draftee, but in 2010 where McCann was taken in 2011. He was traded at the deadline in 2014 in a deal that netted the Tigers’ David Price.

Jonathan Lucroy is 30.  The Brewers’ catcher is arguably the only player of All-Star caliber they have at this point. He’s been an All-Star once up to now, in 2014 when he led the league in doubles.  He’s been a Brewer since 2010. As a collegiate he played for the University of Louisiana Lafayette which has one of the coolest nicknames around—the Ragin’ Cajuns.  That’s up there with the Marshall Thundering Herd in my book. He was a third-round Brewers’ choice in 2007 and an All-Star at every level right up to and including the majors.

Mel Parnell was born  today in 1922 and died in 2012. The New Orleans native put together a 123-75 record in a decade with the Red Sox from 1947-56.    Younger fans may only know his name from the song “Talkin’ Baseball,” where the line goes “Kiner and midget Gaaedel, the Thumper and Mel Parnell. He was an All-Star twice and fired a no-hitter in July of 1956, his final season. He was the pitcher in a game where Johnny Pesky hit the game-winning home run near the foul pole in right.  Parnell gave it the name “The Pesky Pole,” and it still carries the name. No Red Sox lefty would fire a no-hitter from 1956 to 2008 when John Lester did. He managed in the minors and was heard on Red Sox radio/tv from 1965-68, then did TV for the White Sox in 1969.

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